Certain Seizure Meds Safer Than Others

Keppra and Lamictal may be safer than enzyme inducers

(RxWiki News) There are a number of medications used to treat epilepsy. Some of these anti-seizure medications have been shown to increase heart disease risks. New research shows epilepsy patients may have safer choices.

A class of anti-seizure medications known as enzyme-inducers may put epilepsy patients at a greater risk for cardiovascular and other health problems. This class includes phenytoin, marketed under the brand names Di-Phen, Dilantin, Phenytek, and carbamazepine sold under several names - Carbatrol, Epitol, Equetro, Tegretol.

A new research study has shown that switching patients from these medications to so-called non-inducers - Topamax, Topiragen (topirmate) - lowers the levels of cholesterol and inflammatory markers in the blood.

"Ask your pharmacist to explain your medication's side effects."

Researchers in the Department of Neurology at Jefferson University have previously examined a potential link between phenytoin and carbamazepine and higher levels of cholesterol and C-Reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, a marker of inflammation that is seen in diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies conducted at the Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center had demonstrated that switching patients from phenytoin or carbamazepine to non-inducers Keppra (levetiracetam) or Lamictal (lamotrigine) reduces blood lipids, or "serum lipids" as they are scientifically known and CRP.

The current study involving 13 patients has found that switching from enzyme-inducers to Topamax or Topiragen (topiramate) similarly reduces these harmful chemicals. Total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL fell, and CRP decreased by 50 percent.


This study raises, once again, the question of whether the benefits of enzyme-inducers outweigh the risks for epilepsy patients.


This study was printed in the journal Epilepsy Research in November 2011.

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Review Date: 
December 14, 2011